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Prince Muoghalu Okechukwu Okaro

Prince Muoghalu Okechukwu Okaro

Prince Muoghalu Okechukwu Okaro, Nigeria’s foremost Immigration and Visa Consultant, and the CEO of Expressor International Group has made his mark as a reliable and competent professional offering Visa support services for clients wishing to travel abroad for business, study, tourism or work programmes, corporate global relationships, Advertising, Air-Ticketing/Hotel reservations globally. He spoke on the Focus of a CEO in this interview with Nnamdi Nwokolo.

In what ways is Expressor International surviving the business environment?
The Nigerian business environment is in a terrible condition because we are in a recession. A lot of things are going bad as the Naira is on a spin fall. In my own candid opinion it is a result of our appetite for anything foreign as well as the inability of successive governments not planning for the rainy day and that is why we find ourselves in the middle of nowhere. The situation is really affecting every business outfit. The importance and sustainability of any business in a recession is to keep itself abreast of trending issues in the industry. As far as our trade is concerned, we have remained credible as most of our clients serve as referrals for us. This is so because we have a track record of delivery, integrity and credibility. For example, we have so many offerings like the Canadian express entry visa, a programme introduced by the Canadian government to give opportunity to migrants from Africa and other places to live and work in Canada. It comes in two classes, the federal skilled worker (white collar) is for graduates with cognate experience who had sat for IELTS and obtained a particular point, while the federal trade class (blue collar) is for non-graduates who have a particular vocation that suits occupational programme of the (CIC) Citizens Immigration Canada. There are so many programmes on offer by international organizations and Nigerians are taking advantage of that including United States customised work programme, United Kingdom adaptation or specialized work programme and Dubai Kafalat work programme etc

Innovative products and offerings:
We try as much as possible to explore and avail Nigerians opportunities in some Scandinavian institutions that offer tuition free programmes, but to get the tuition free facility, you need to have temporary students permit. There are also some schools in Germany and other countries that offer tuition free Masters Programme. We also explore some of these opportunities for Nigerians to take advantage of. What is important in getting a study permit, be it undergraduate or postgraduate studies is first to apply to the university of your choice. If you qualify, they’ll offer you admission but the challenge most people have is that they are not genuinely interested in going abroad to study. If the consulate after the interview finds out that the intention is genuine, Visa will be issued immediately.

What is the impact of the foreign exchange regime to your operations?
The Foreign Exchange regime is impacting negatively on our business operations as paying school fees abroad has become very challenging. What is painful about the Nigerian situation is that foreign direct and portfolio investors exited our economy with about eighty billion dollars all of a sudden and it affected the economy adversely. The CBN is doing everything possible to attract those investors as a lot of things are on the upwards scale and the monetary policy rate for fixed income and other investments are reasonable with the current 14% Monetary Rediscount Rate (MRR) which is tailored to anchor the present economic realities. I strongly recommend that The Single Account (TSA) should remain with the CBN as people are clamouring for it to be removed; the reason is that almost all the banks have corporate governance issues. What the government ought to do is to reflate the economy using money realized from the TSA. The issue of round tripping should be looked into to stem the tide of corruption in our system. I support the war on corruption wit all intents and purposes because that is the only way out of the situation we are in now. Corruption has been the bane of our development as you can see from the recent scandal of budget padding and so on.

It’s been argued that the absence of a sound economic team is the reason for this recession, what’s your take?
The economic team is headed by the Vice President, who with due respect is a sound Lawyer and he knows what to do in situations like this even though he is not an economist. A lot of seasoned economists are advising the government and I think that the President is not insensitive to our plight. Overtime, I assume safely that they will assemble a hybrid economic team made up of seasoned technocrats and Economists. The challenge is that Nigerians are impatient as they want things to be gotten right immediately.

What can government do differently?
The only thing government can do differently in a recession is to create a more conducive environment for businesses to thrive. The increase in tax to generate revenue for government is a step in the wrong direction. What they need to do is to reflate the economy, reduce tax and bring down the cost of doing business. What they are doing gave rise to the insinuation by some experts that we’ll be in this situation in the next couple of years, which I disagree totally. The fall in oil price is a blessing in disguise for us as diversification is the best way out of our current economic quagmire. The challenge is that agriculture for example, has a gestation period of three to four years. The impact of diversification will not happen overnight. The situation has given rise to more agitations in the polity and I advice the government to engage the agitators in a constructive dialogue as that is the only way to achieve sustainable peace.

As a stakeholder in Anambra politics, what’s your assessment of governance there?
The governor of Anambra state, Chief Willie Obiano is doing well in terms of security of lives and property as well as economic diversification of the state but you cannot rate him above average as he is doing nothing extraordinary. He has to do more in terms of doing palliative work on the Enugu-Onitsha expressway to alleviate the sufferings people experience on that road and ask for a refund from the federal government. What the governor has done cannot be compared to what Dr. Chris Ngige did in Anambra State. It was Dr. Ngige that annihilated the godfathers that held Anambra state by its jugular for a long time and opened up the state with unprecedented infrastructural developments across all the nooks and crannies of the state. I’m much unbiased when it comes to the Nigerian project; I’ll tell you that there is no strategic balancing in terms of appointments and infrastructural development for the South East. But, I want to believe that the President is doing something about it which in due course will be unveiled. It is also important to use this medium to express my satisfaction to Ogidi kingdom for successfully electing an Igwe after 18 years hiatus. The process was rancour free and Uzo Ezeadi Onyido emerged victorious. I urge the Governor to oblige him the letter of recognition to enable him start the process of reconciliation and move Ogidi Kingdom to the next level. I urge the contenders to give peace a chance to make Ogidi maintain its pride of place within the comity of Idenmili establishment.

Projections:
We are building a global brand with Expressor International Group. We intend to move into a more befitting corporate headquarters in Lagos with an annex in Abuja and we have strong plans to open Outfits in Ghana, Cameroun and Liberia over time and some West African sub regions at the instance of some of our overseas principals, in order to beef up their students’ intake from the West African sub regions in view of the fact that we represent them as Corporate Referral Students’ Agencies. An environmental business feasibility project on this programme has been completed and we are structuring the requisite variables to enable a successful takeoff in scheduled phases. We have also concluded with three countries that have no representation to make us their Visa collection centre in Nigeria. In expression of a good working relationship, my partners will be hosting me at Grosvenors Hotel in London by the end of this month.

Leadership philosophy:
Credible people lead by example. If you watch what is happening in our body polity, you’ll find out, we are yet to get the change we craved for. I’ve always told people that president Buhari is a man of impeccable character in all spheres of human endeavour. I know him personally and I believe he’ll sanitize the system and put Nigeria on the right track to economic development. Would you believe that President Muhammadu Buhari as an Ex Head of State will make his net worth available for public scrutiny; can that be said of the people that are chanting change. For example, the budget padding scandal in the House of representative is disgusting and I urge the principal officers to do the needful in line with the anti corruption agenda of the present administration.

You will be celebrating a milestone in a couple of days, would you say you are fulfilled?
God has been very good to me. Two years ago, I had a very bad health challenge which has been taken care of by His grace. The good lord has always been on the throne of grace. I feel fulfilled for all that God has used me to achieve in my existence. I’m fulfilled that my business and family are working perfectly to His glory. We live in a frustrated time, so I advise Nigerians to be very patient with ourselves. We should seek god’s face in all that we do and realize that this is a passing phase in our National life.



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